Carry On Convenience
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Aug 01, 2016
I read a story about a month ago from
a TSA worker, who complained that they
are overworked, underappreciated and
under paid. According to Vaughn Glenn,
a TSA agent and union representative in Detroit,
only about half of Americans surveyed in a 2014
poll thought TSA screening makes air travel safer.
Glenn said that the TSA is not the evil force that
people are thinking of, but rather they are following
processes and procedures made at a much higher
level. He also says that TSA agents face an enormous
amount of stress and low pay.
The median salary for a TSA agent is $45,000 per
year. Fact is, some TSA staff members earn much
less, and that is a shame. However, it is a choice to
protect the flying public.
For travelers who haven’t flown in an airplane in
the last 20 years, things are different. TSA staff is all
about security, at every level. For instance, that wood
grain pocket knife your auntie gave you when you
were a little boy, it will never, or shouldn’t, make it
through security now days.
Some travelers today expect to get through security
in a minute or two, but that is not always the case.
If a traveler is late for a flight, TSA has nothing to do
with it. Leave early to be on time.
Despite the complaints offered by Glenn, TSA is
doing some pretty amazing things. For instance, TSA
and American Airlines are testing a joint initiative to
install new screening technology, including automated
security screening lanes and CT scans on carry-on
baggage. This technology is already in use at one U.S.
airport, and is expected to enhance security effectiveness,
and decrease the time travelers spend in security
screening by as much as 30 percent.
Deployment lanes are expected in Chicago
(O’Hare), Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Miami.
Phoenix SkyHarbor will have an enhanced security
checkpoint by end of the year.
“Our foremost priority is the security of the traveling
public,” said Peter V. Neffenger, TSA administrator.
Of course that is what Neffenger is going to say.
His public affairs staff seemingly had to work overtime
to craft that obvious truism. For American Airlines’
part, they are pleased to be working collaboratively
with TSA to support next generation screening
technology. American Airlines is using their major
hubs to test the effectiveness of the security, as well as
improving on customer experience.
There are a number of unique features designed
to improve the screening of travelers. This will be accomplished
by automating many functions that are
now conducted manually. With this working at peak
speeds, passengers will be able to move more swiftly
through a security checkpoint.
One of the innovations is an automated belt that
will draw bags into the X-ray machine, returning the
bins back to queue after the completion of screening.
Wait a minute; doesn’t that already happen at London’s
Heathrow or Charles de Gaulle in Paris?
Bags with a potential threat will be directed to a
separate area to allow following bins to continue forward
uninterrupted. RFID tags will be attached to every
bin for additional accountability of items as they
transit the system and cameras that capture photos
of the outside of the bag, which is linked to the X-ray
image of that bag’s contents.
CT technology is a security friendly solution. Airports
can screen checked bags more efficiently and
significantly improves the throughput of screened
items. Now, 3D CT technology could make it possible
for passengers to leave liquids, gels and aerosols, as
well as your laptop computer, in your carry-on bags
at all times.
TSA plans to roll out additional automated checkpoint
lanes to improve screening as well as help minimize
wait times. Their goal is simple, to incorporate automated
security checkpoint lanes at all U.S. airports.
This enhanced security may alleviate one of
Glenn’s issues at TSA, which is new hires who leave
the job before they even get on the floor. I suppose we
could be a little more understanding of TSA employees.
They are, after all, providing security screening at
some of the busiest places in the country.
A thank you and pat on the back never hurts anyone.
Before you know it, manual security screening of
carry-on baggage will be a thing of the past.
This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of Security Today.